Dave Harkcom and Greg Lester Win a Very Hot, Dry and Dusty Moonlight Monte

Saturday morning on June 5 2021 found West Branch MI, the starting and ending location for the region’s 2021 Moonlight Monte TSD road rally, a very warm place, and promising to get only warmer as the day progressed. Twelve teams queued up to run Dan Harkcom’s TSD road rally over some 200 miles of back roads stretching from north and west of West Branch over to south and west of Houghton Lake. And man, it was HOT! And breezy. And dry!

This area of southern Michigan is notorious for being sandy, and these roads drove home the point. Almost all the unpaved roads were at least sand covered, and in some cases stretches of deeper soft sand. So how about we run some cars briskly down these roads at one minute intervals, eh? Can you say DUST?

Click here to view complete results from Son of Sno*Drift XXIII.
Click here to view a map display Moonlight Monte’s rally route.
Click here to view photos from Moonlight Monte.

Equipped class made up fully half of the entry list, with the long time and very skilled teams of Dave Harkcom with Greg Lester and David Stone with Rob Moran the likely contenders for the win. Harkcom/Lester emerged from the end of section 1 with just 12.3 points for the 22 controls, with Stone/Moran close up behind with 15.4, amazing performances given the driving conditions imposed by wash boarded and dusty roads. John Fishbeck and Laurie Dawson managed to keep the front runners honest, scoring 20.4 for the section. The second section was more of the same, ending with Harkcom/Lester at 22.3 total, Stone/Moran at 31.6, and Fishbeck/Dawson trailing with 39.4.

Section 3 kicked off, and disaster struck Fishbeck/Dawson. Their Richta app, while by all appearances functioning correctly, in fact was not recording checkpoint passages, resulting in max scores for the first 11 legs of the section (a bug report and accompanying device log were sent to the Richta folks). With Fishbeck/Dawson out of the picture Rob Kay and Mike Bennett took up the torch to hold third. With the dust settled (literally!) at the end, Harkcom/Lester took the class and overall win with a total of 49.5 points for the 60 scored controls, an average error of just 0.8 second per control! Following close behind was Stone/Moran with 54.3, a remarkably close finish after some 200 miles and 60 controls. Kay/Bennett took third in class with 143.1.

Limited class saw three teams. Maegan Burkart has been quite successful at persuading available experienced folk to rally with her, and for Moonlight Monte she got Piotr Roszczenko to navigate for her, as Piotr’s normal driver, Adam Spieszny, was unavailable. Rounding out the class were Sean Riddell and Trevor Council; Sean normally runs with his dad Steve, but with Steve out of state visiting family Sean enlisted friend Trevor. The third entry found POR rallymaster Bruce Fisher running with Craig Scott, who’s from the West Branch area. Riddel/Council and Burkart/Roszczenko battled through section 2, but then Meagan and Piotr pulled away to claim the class win at the end with 194.4 to Sean and Trevor’s 339.

Stock class also had three entries. Certainly the stock class entry of interest was the team of Zac Hudacko and Sawyer Stone. Stone, a Great Race winning navigator, has stormed the Detroit Region’s stock class since he began competing with the region a few years ago. Normally Sawyer runs with Alison Lee, but for Moonlight Monte he enlisted Zac for driving duties while he assumed navigation responsibilities. Stone again turned in an astounding stock class run, netting just 136.2 points over the six controls, an average of just over 2 seconds error per control – a remarkable stock class performance. That was not only good for first in class over the other two stock teams of Kyle Steinkamp with Ross Stapleton at second and Raven Rotsaert with Brian Johnson at third, but was third overall, beating the score of the third place equipped class finisher.

This was one TSD rally where everyone seemed to be relieved that it was done. The third section was especially challenging, with the dust back in the field severely limiting visibility and wash boarding so severe that most folks found maintaining CAST difficult. No milk run, this 2021 Moonlight Monte!

Thanks to rally master Dan Harkcom for his work in bringing Moonlight Monte back to life after a several year absence. It was missed, and it was good to have it back.